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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 10:54 GMT
Denmark extends Chechen's detention
Activists hold pro-Chechen slogans as they picket outside the Danish Embassy in Moscow
Mr Zakayev's detention has aroused strong feelings
A Danish court has ordered top Chechen envoy Akhmed Zakayev to remain in custody.

The judge in Copenhagen said Mr Zakayev would remain in jail for a further nine days, pending a ruling on his extradition to Russia on terrorism charges.

The Danish authorities have given Russia until Saturday to present its full case against Mr Zakayev, a senior envoy to rebel Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov.

Mr Zakayev was arrested in Copenhagen on 30 October at the request of the Russian authorities, after addressing a controversial Chechen conference in the city.

He told the court on Tuesday that he wanted an open hearing, to let him answer the allegations made against him.

"All the accusations that the Russian authorities have levied against me are not only made up, but carried for the most part by the Russian media, and I have no opportunity to deny or to comment on them," Mr Zakayev said.

'Collecting evidence'

Russia maintains that the Chechen envoy is linked to attacks on Russian civilians, including the recent theatre raid in Moscow that left about 120 hostages dead.

On Tuesday, Russian news agency Interfax reported that prosecutors in Moscow had sent new material to Denmark related to Mr Zakayev, including information on the interrogation of a priest.

Akhmed Zakayev
Zakayev blames breakaway rebels for the hostage raid
"We continue collecting evidence of Zakayev's guilt," Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky said.

Denmark has so far rejected Russian requests to extradite Mr Zakayev, saying there was insufficient evidence to deport him.

The two countries do not have an extradition treaty, but the Danish Justice Ministry has said the envoy could be handed over if it receives sufficient proof, as well as assurances he will not face the death penalty.

Hostage drama

Mr Zakayev's continued detention comes at a time of strained relations between Denmark and Russia.

The Danish authorities refused to ban the Chechen conference at which Mr Zakayev was arrested, despite requests from the Russian authorities who said it should not take place so soon after the theatre siege.

Just a week before the conference began, a Chechen suicide squad seized a Moscow theatre, taking more than 800 people hostage and threatening to kill them if Russia did not withdraw its forces from Chechnya immediately.

The building was stormed by security forces, but more than 120 hostages died, many due to the gas pumped into the theatre to subdue the rebels.


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30 Oct 02 | Europe
24 Oct 02 | Europe
31 Oct 02 | Europe
30 Oct 02 | Europe
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